Blog,  Charity Sewing,  Pattern Reviews

Charity sewing: the Hope dresses

I’m trying out 2 girls’ dress PDFs, both named “Hope” and both designed expressly for donating to charity.  The first is from Bobkin (released this past October 2015) and then next I’ll make the one from Violette Fields Threads (released this past December2015).



I love charity sewing, thinking about the joy you can bring to a complete stranger halfway around the world, or even close to home.  It’s such a lovely way to share what you have been blessed with: talent, education, financial security…..things you may take for granted like electricity, a sewing machine and iron, a car for fabric shopping, access to the internet. I especially love sewing for girls, because it reminds me that girls don’t always get a fair shake in certain parts of the world.  As Oprah Winfrey said “ After the hundreds of
stories I’ve heard of atrocities around the globe, I know that if you’re a woman born in the United States, you’re one of the luckiest women in the world.”

Mrs. Bobkin designed her “Hope” dress expressly for the international charity, “Dress a Girl Around the World” .

This organization distributes simple hand-sewn cotton dresses that can actually save girls lives by protecting them from abductors. “Dress a Girl” has been around for a long time, and originally they  collected true “pillowcase dresses”…made from real pillowcases.  Now they are requesting dresses made from sturdier cottons, and they have a free pattern for an armscye template, to cut out from rectangles of fabric.  However,  this new design from Bobkin is a full pattern for a lovely shaped dress, which I much prefer! You can download it free from the Bobkin blog:

First impressions of the Bobkin “Hope”, while cutting it out:

  1. It has an A-line, which is so much more flattering than a straight up and down pillowcase dress.
  2. It has a slightly scooped neckline, and a sweet ruffle cap-sleeve, which looks more finished than a pillowcase
  3. Yardage-yield is thoughtful: it’s much easier to sew for charity when you can afford the fabrics needed, or pull from your stash…this way the organization is sure to get more donations of dresses
  4. All body measurements are listed, in inches and centimeters, as well as all of the information you need to donate internationally. Nice!

I made a muslin from the smallest size, which is for 0 to 3 months.



Honestly when I looked at the pattern I thought the armscye needed to be trued (corrected to an angle that would create a smooth scoop) but I was wrong.  Mrs. Bobkin has designed a simple method of creating a finished underarm in a vee-shape, by first overlocking each side-seam allowance, then stitching the seam, then folding-while-pressing the underarm, then topstitching.  It’s fast and the result is a nicely finished armhole that perfectly suits the purpose: to get more dresses made with no fuss!



The muslin turned out to be much larger than I would eye-ball a size 3 month.  Actually it fit on my 12-month dressform.


I am going to reduce the chest width for the infant sizes. I measured the pattern to determine finished length (info not included in the pattern).  Compared to the standard chart that I use in my business, the infant sizes are quite long, even ankle-length, while the upper sizes are a bit short. I am going to add some length for the big girls and trim off some for the babes.


This my adjusted pattern:


Since the “Dress a Girl” organization requests that fabrics should “not look like a nightgown”, I chose a bold floral, which I cut out in a size four, taking only 3/4 of a yard of 44” fabric. It took less than an hour to cut out, sew, and press.  The armscye finish is kind of brilliant!




Would I change anything? Other than the length, no.  Typically I don’t like patterns with the same back-front.  Usually I would insist on a higher neckline in back, a broader across-back, a more scooped front armscye…but in this case, since you want the simplest possible fool-proof pattern that will encourage seamstresses of all abilities to participate, I’d keep the mirrored front/back.  I might add more sweep, depending on how much fabric I had.


Bottom line: I love it, and plan to make many more!

What are your favorite “charity sews”?


  • Bonnie

    I know what you mean about liking a pattern with a different piece for the front and the back, but with a same-front-back dress, it’s easier for a child to dress without help. They always get the front in the front, and for a little one, it can be a real accomplishment when they’re just learning. Also, if these children are possibly in a group living situation such as an orphanage, having clothing made this way can make it just a bit easier on the caregivers. Thank you for such a good review – I’ve made the basic pillowcase-type dress for Dress A Girl Around The World, but this one is what I’ll be making next time!

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